With land costs and provincial policies resulting
in ever-shrinking building lots, builders and
homeowners are being forced to transform
redundant areas of homes into usable living space. The
popular open-concept floor plan effectively eliminated
hallways and foyers that consumed viable living space.
And of course the previously maligned basement is now an
integral part of a home.
So how about all the crawlspace in the roof, traditionally
known as the attic? Although older homes continue to have their attics retrofitted, newer homes pose challenges
the industry may need to address.
Gabe Cicconi, president of Vesca Construction, says most
new home roof designs are not conducive to attic
renovations. "The pitch of the roof is imperative; if it's
too low you simply do not have enough head room," he
says, adding that the attic's floor joists often are not
engineered to support the weight of living space.
Then there's the small
problem of your new home
warranty program being voided
if structural modifications are
made. And even your home
insurance policy may be
So what would it take
for builders to make their
roofs attic-reno friendly? Lou
Frustaglio of DreamBuilders
Renovations says it would
entail "designing the roof
trusses to be weight bearing,
adding some rough-in services,
and providing an access point,"
noting it would only cost a few
thousand dollars if done at
the construction phase and
add as much as 25 per cent
more living space.
Indeed, innovative and
could easily achieve a
marketing edge and greater
profits by re-evaluating how
they treat attic space.
With a little imagination,
today's crawlspace could
become a stunning walk-in
closet, a secret retreat off the
master bedroom, an inspiring
home office, a charming guest
bedroom, a cozy playroom, a spacious loft, or a personal
theatre room. Or it could be used for something as mundane
as bare-bones storage space.
Depending on the level of rough-in during construction,
it might still be necessary for the homeowner to install
insulation, lay down flooring, put in drywall, and create a
stairway. And although heating and cooling could also be
accommodated and roughed-in using the home's original mechanical services, proven technologies used in places
such as Europe also make it possible for the installation of
self-contained, stand-alone, ductless HVAC (heating,
venting, and air conditioning) systems.
When converting your attic into living space, it's
important to be realistic about its dimensions.
Although it wouldn't take much to create that
stunning his-and-hers walk-in closet above the master
bedroom, it'll be a little more
challenging, if not impossible,
to create a billiards room.
That said, attic architecture
can present some very
interesting options. The
angles in the walls and
ceiling could be used as
architectural features to
enhance the living space. For
example, installing a plasma
TV screen on an angled
ceiling instead of a wall
means you can watch TV
lying down and looking up.
And depending on how
you use paint and colour, as
well as the creative use of
skylights and windows, you
could create a visually stunning
Even access to the
attic presents intriguing
design opportunities. Home
builders could extend the
principal stairway right up
into the attic, creating an
for the home-and by
introducing a skylight,
the home would also have
Homeowners might consider the addition of creative
stairways: everything from the hideaway fold-out style
to artistically striking stairways with concealed wall
brackets that create the illusion that the stairs are
suspended in space.
Indeed, the attic is poised to easily come back into
vogue. All it would take is for homeowners to start
asking builders to add them.